Islanders Clinch Playoff Spot In Final Season at Nassau Coliseum

Islanders

The New York Islanders were finally allowed to let a sigh of relief during their idle Thursday night, as the Boston Bruins lost to the Florida Panthers 4-2, which in turn resulted in the Islanders clinching a playoff spot for the 2015 postseason.

The Islanders lost five of their last seven during a span in which the Bruins won five of their last seven. The Islanders started feeling the pressure when the Bruins slapped together a five-game win streak, but dropped their final two—including last night’s lost to Florida—that all but ended their hopes of sneaking into the playoffs.

The Islanders, who are enjoying their final season playing at Nassau Coliseum, are currently looking at a first round series against the Washington Capitals, but some shifting can still be done with two games remaining on the schedule.

The Islanders game on Friday night is against the Pittsburgh Penguins, who currently have a one-point lead on the Bruins. For the Bruins to get in, they’re going to need help from the Isles on Friday night, where the average ticket prices is $252.70 with a get-in price of $81. The crowd at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh will be raucous, as it is fan appreciation night and the team is still fighting to secure a playoff position. Islanders tickets for their final game of the season has an average ticket price of $153.13 with a walk-in price of $62. It will be a special night as it will be the final regular season home game at Nassau Coliseum.

The games for the first round of the playoffs that could possibly be held at Nassau Coliseum (if necessary) have an average ticket price of $346.91. It’s going to be a tough ticket to acquire to get into the soon-to-be ex-Islanders home ice. The highest average ticket price is the possible date of April 27th, pricing at $467.77 with a walk-in price of $133 as of Friday afternoon.

Posted in Razorgator

Dallas Mavericks Clinch Playoff Spot for 14th Time in 15 Years, Wait For Opponent

Dirk

Although the Dallas Mavericks did not suit up on Tuesday night, the results around the league helped the franchise officially lock in a playoff spot for this year’s postseason.

The San Antonio Spurs pounded the Oklahoma City Thunder last night, 113-88. The Thunder are four and a half games back of the Mavericks with four games to play and could mathematically only tie the Mavericks. Since Dallas owns the tiebreaker, they will automatically finish ahead of Oklahoma City, no matter the result of the final four games.

Tickets to Dallas Mavericks playoff games are fetching some high prices. Their game on April 18th (opponent TBD) has an average ticket price of $154.06 with a get-in price of $34. The Mavericks second game has an average ticket price of $158.10 with a walk-in price of $35. For the final two home games, if necessary, the prices start to jump. Tickets for the games on April 28th and April 30th are seeing average prices of $259.25 and $402.18 respectively. The get-in prices of those games are $44 and $96.

It is the 14th time in 15 years that the Mavericks had made the postseason. The Mavericks most likely first round opponent is the Houston Rockets, but there are plenty of scenarios where teams can move around in the standings, so there’s nothing set in stone just yet. The Memphis Grizzlies are one game behind the Rockets, who has the next best chance of being Dallas’ first round opponent.

The Mavericks have no chance of moving up in the last four games, as they are five and a half games back of the Spurs.

Whoever the Mavericks play, they will be the series underdog against either the Rockets or Grizzlies. The Mavericks went 1-3 against each team during the regular season.

Posted in Razorgator

NCAA Championship Game Tickets Remain Strong After Kentucky Exit

Wisco-Duke

Wisconsin and Duke will square off in the NCAA Championship game on April 6th, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis with a scheduled tipoff time of 9:18 p.m. ET.

According to RazorGator.com, NCAA Championship game tickets have an average price of $522.09 with a walk-in price of $129. In the middle of March, average ticket prices were reaching of $1,000, and as of April 4th, were down to $617.88. The prices dropped immediately after Kentucky was eliminated by Wisconsin on Saturday night. Instead of a pro-Kentucky championship game, it’ll be a more even distribution between the two schools.

The Duke Blue Devils were given a No. 1 seed on Selection Sunday and have had a relatively easy time getting to the Championship game. After avoiding the 16-seed upset, Duke beat San Diego State by 19 points, had their closest contest against Utah next, only winning by six, before taking on perhaps their toughest competition of the tournament in Gonzaga, whom Duke dispatched by 14 points. After Gonzaga, Duke steamrolled Michigan State in their Final Four game by 20 points, a game in which they were in control for the majority of the action.

Wisconsin has faced tougher competition to get to the Championship game, but that didn’t mean much to the Badgers. After knocking off Oregon in the Round of 32, Wisconsin beat North Carolina by seven points in the Sweet 16 round before defeating Arizona by seven points to reach the Final Four. Then, Wisconsin took down the undefeated Kentucky Wildcats, who America seemed to have penciled in to win the NCAA Tournament before it started.

Duke handed Wisconsin its first loss of the season on December 3rd at home. Duke shot 65% at the Kohl Center that day, but this contest will surely have an entirely different feel to it.

All eyes will be on the big man matchup between Wooden Award candidates Frank Kaminsky and Jahlil Okafor. Kaminsky took home the Naismith Player of the Year award last week, averaging 18.2 points per game compared to Okafor’s 17.7 points per game. But both big men are willing passers, which creates a similar offense for both squads. Both forwards like to take advantage of one-on-one opportunities that arise, but will kick it out to lethal shooters when defensive help comes their way.

Head coach Mike Krzyzewski is going for his fifth National Championship, adding to the teams from 1991, 1992, 2001 and 2010. Bo Ryan is looking for his first NCAA Division I National Championship, as he previous won four NCAA Division III Tournaments from 1991-1999. This game will feature one of the country’s most efficient offenses against one of the most potent. It’ll be a great way to end the 2014-15 college basketball season.

Posted in Razorgator

Kansas City Royals Start AL Defense Against Up-And-Coming White Sox on Opening Day

KC Royals

The Kansas City Royals look to prove they can be consistent contenders when they take the field in 2015. After about a decade of incompetence, the Royals shocked the sports world, making a run to the World Series from a Wild Card position, and falling just one game short of the ultimate prize, losing a seven game series to the San Francisco Giants.

The Royals went 89-73 in 2014 and look to possibly knock off the Detroit Tigers atop the American League Central. Kauffman Stadium boosted its reputation during last season’s playoff run, as the stadium was packed night after night during their national televised playoff run. Kansas City Royals tickets for their home opener against the Chicago White Sox on April 6th have an average ticket price of $225.36 with a get-in price of $90. Currently, this game has the highest average ticket price of any Kansas City home game for the entire season.

Kansas City brings back a majority of the roster that brought them success last season. Eric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas will be on the corners, Alex Gordon and Lorenzo Cain will patrol the outfield, Salvador Perez will be behind the dish and their impeccable bullpen strength remains largely intact with Greg Holland, Wade Davis and Kelvin Herrera.

Although the starting pitching staff is similar, they are missing their “big name” No. 1 starter in James Shields, who is now with the San Diego Padres. The team will give the No. 1 starter label to 23-year-old power pitcher Yordano Ventura, who we last saw throw seven shutout innings in Game 6 to force a Game 7 in the World Series. Along with Ventura, the Royals continue to go with Jason Vargas, Danny Duffy and Jeremy Guthrie, along with the pitchers they brought in during the offseason, Edinson Volquez and Chris Young. The Royals also acquired Kris Medlen, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery from last season.

Their biggest addition for the offense was the signing of Kendrys Morales, who will primarily be a designated hitter.

The Kansas City Royals plan of developing their young talent finally came into fruition last season. But as the saying goes, it’s more difficult to stay at the top than to reach the top. The Royals will try to create a consistency that hasn’t been associated with the franchise in over a decade.

Posted in Sports

As Excitement for Houston Astros Rises, Attendance and Prices May As Well

Jose Altuve

The Houston Astros showed great strides last season, increasing their win total by 19 games from their dreadful 2013 season. After three consecutive seasons of fewer than 60 wins from 2011-2013, the Astros have the highest expectations they’ve had since the early 2000’s.

As a result, the excitement around the club will be tangible. According to RazorGator.com, Houston Astros tickets for Opening Day on April 6th against the Cleveland Indians and Minute Maid Park have an average ticket price of $136.23 with a walk-in price of $19.

The offense runs through second baseman Jose Altuve who led MLB in batting average (.341) and was second in steals (56) in 2014. Power hitting outfielder Chris Carter finished second in baseball in home runs (37), so there are definitely pieces to be excited about. Beyond those two, George Springer is an on-the-rise outfielder; Jason Castro is their catcher for years to come; Evan Gattis and Colby Rasmus were acquired pieces for stability and they have a young, talented pitching staff including Scott Feldman, Dallas Keuchel, Colin McHugh and Dan Straily.

Houston recently moved to the AL West, and will have a good chance to finish in third if things go according to plan. The Texas Rangers and Oakland Athletics seem to be headed for down seasons due to injuries and offseason movement. The Los Angeles Angels and Seattle Mariners are two teams looking to compete for a World Series championship, so the Astros would need a near perfect season to compete with them at the top of the division.

The Houston Astros drew 1,751,829 fans in 2014, representing an attendance increase for the second consecutive season. If the Astros are in the thick of things after the All-Star break, expect that increase to reach a third consecutive season.

Posted in Razorgator

Brewers Look To Build Off Bounce-Back Year, Contend in 2015

Brewers

Two years ago, the Milwaukee Brewers endured a truly disastrous season, posting their worst record in almost a decade, while being mired in the ugly controversy involving their face of the franchise Ryan Braun. Braun ended up being suspended the final 65 games of the 2013 campaign due to performance-enhancing drugs. As a result, a lot of people anticipated the Brewers were heading for a steep decline, even after a combined .552 winning percentage in the prior two seasons that also included a trip to the National League Championship Series in ‘11.

Luckily for Brewers fans, the team was able to get back on track a season ago, as even though they coughed up a first-place lead in the division that they held for a good portion of the season, the club still finished over .500, supplying evidence that the future is indeed bright in Milwaukee. With the roster they possess entering the upcoming season, a trip to the playoffs is certainly more than possible.

As such, Brewers tickets for their Opening Day game against the Rockies in Miller Park are seeing steady demand. According to Razorgator, tickets for the April 6 opener are averaging $119 on the secondary market, with a get-in price of $51. Over the past week prices had remained relatively flat, increasing one percent in cost.

While Braun has not looked like the MVP player he used to be since his controversial suspension, the fact remains that he’s still a very talented player and a more-than-satisfactory option to have in the heart of the batting order. Plus, he was limited last year by injuries, but did have that problem addressed in the offseason by undergoing surgery to repair the nerve issue in his right thumb, so there is hope he can return to his normal production.

Aside from Braun, the Brewers actually boast an extremely talented and athletic outfield. In center field, they have Carlos Gomez, who has been outstanding the past two seasons — so much so that he was rewarded with an All Star berth in each campaign. Furthermore, young Khris Davis looks promising in right and is well above average when it comes to hitting with power. The key for him will be to improve his discipline at the plate.

With talented players also residing within the infield, such as Aramis Ramirez and Jean Segura, the Brewers potentially could have one of the harder hitting lineups in the National League this season. The addition of slugger Adam Lind — if he stays healthy — also may increase their power output, too.

Pitching, however, may be Milwaukee’s undoing if their season ends up unraveling at some point. While their bullpen is still good, having Francisco Rodriguez return as the closer and Jonathan Broxton setting him up, their starting pitching remains the team’s biggest question mark. Yovani Gallardo, entering a contract year, was dealt to Texas, and as a result, Kyle Lohse slips in as Milwaukee’s No. 1 starter, which is a relative weakness compared to their rivals’ aces. Directly behind him are Matt Garza and Wily Peralta, who are both far from certainties, especially given their higher positioning in the rotation.

Mike Fiers made a nice resurgence last year and has rightfully been rewarded with a spot on the pitching staff this year, but following up that success might be a little difficult. Jimmy Nelson slides into the fifth spot and will be another question mark for the Brewers’ starting pitching. For both of these guys, though, there is certainly potential, given their young age and glimpses they’ve exhibited in the recent past.

Overall, the 2015 Brewers look like they’ll be paced by their offense. With a solid bullpen, if they just consistent starting pitching from most of their starters, they’ll definitely be a playoff contender throughout the year. If not, it could be a long season hanging around the NL Central basement.

Posted in Sports

Miami Marlins Tickets in More Demand Due To Stanton Signing, Overall Optimism

Giancarlo Stanton

Giancarlo Stanton said he would commit to the Miami Marlins if the franchise wanted to commit to winning right now.

The Marlins brought in Michael Morse from the San Francisco Giants, Dee Gordon and Dan Haren from the Los Angeles Dodgers, Martin Prado and Ichiro Suzuki from the New York Yankees, Mat Latos from the Cincinnati Reds, and Aaron Crow, a reliever from the Kansas City Royals.

It seemed the franchise obliged his request.

The Marlins have quickly turned into a team that will compete against the Washington Nationals for a National League East division title.

Although Stanton is one of the most talented players in the MLB, it will be interesting to see how he returns from his season ending injury last season in the latter half of the season. Stanton was hit in the face with a fastball and had multiple facial fractures, lacerations and dental damage. The Marlins seem to think he’ll be just fine, as they signed their young star to a 13-year, $325 million extension, which is the biggest in sports history—not just baseball—all sports.

The Marlins have one of the most exciting teams they’ve had in sometime, and as a result Miami Marlins tickets to their Opening Day game against the Atlanta Braves on April 6th at Marlins Park have an average price of $162.95 with a get-in price of $27. This is the Marlins’ highest-priced ticket in the month of April. The excitement for the team is real.

The battles with the Washington Nationals and New York Mets will be fierce all season long. The National League East looks like it may be one of the more competitive divisions at the top, with the Nationals playing the role of the early World Series favorites and the Mets on the rise with their young pitching staff and the return of Matt Harvey.

The Marlins have a habit of having a few down years and springing to life and capturing a World Series title. Maybe this is one of those teams that will add to that cycle.

Posted in Sports

Mets Optimism Contributing To Robust Home Opener Ticket Prices

Mets

Before you know it, Opening Day for Major League Baseball will be in front and center of the sports world. It’s one of the most optimistic times in sports, as every team starts from zero, trying to earn their spot in the postseason. Speaking of optimism, the amount around the New York Mets clubhouse is staggering. After a few dark seasons, the Mets seem to see the light at the end of the tunnel with their young pitching becoming the backbone of the team. The excitement is pouring into ticket prices for Opening Day, which we’ll review below.

After the Mets begin their season with two road series against the Washington Nationals and the Atlanta Braves, they come home to Citi Field to celebrate the beginning of a new season, and hopefully a new winning culture on April 13th against the Philadelphia Phillies. These two clubs pinned against each other is a good draw even without the allure of Opening Day.

According to RazorGator.com, the average ticket price is $215.70, and the get-in price for Mets tickets vs. Philadelphia is around just $53, which is a quality deal for the building and rising attitude towards the 2015 New York Mets.

A pitching staff chock full of young, rising stars gets a boost from the return of Matt Harvey, who missed all of 2014 with Tommy John surgery. He joins 2014 NL Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom, Zach Wheeler, Dillon Gee, Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon. The Mets even have young arms waiting in the wings, ready for their call up from the minor leagues.

Harvey recently made his return to the mound in a Mets Spring Training game and looked like the Harvey Mets’ fans know and love. The Mets ace threw 25 pitches against the Tigers over two perfect innings, hit 99 mph on the radar gun and unleashed a curveball that is going to make a few major league hitters look silly this season.

For the offense, the Mets added a power bat to their lineup signing Michael Cuddyer to a two-year, $21 million contract. Cuddyer hit .331 with 20 home runs and 84 RBI in 2013 and hit .332 with 10 home runs in 49 games in 2014. Cuddyer joins a lineup that includes: David Wright, Lucas Duda, Daniel Murphy and Travis d’Arnaud.

2014 NL Gold Glove award winner Juan Lagares controls the middle of the outfield with Curtis Granderson and Cuddyer on either side of him.

Even though atop the division, in theory, are the World Series favorite Washington Nationals, the Mets should be able to gain traction on both the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves who are projected to finish as the bottom of the division. Terry Collins has a chance to lead this team to a National League Wildcard spot, and hopefully make some noise in the postseason with their pitching staff.

Posted in Razorgator

Post-Jeter Yankees Will Take The Field In Two Months For Opening Day vs. Toronto

Yankees - CC ARod

There’s no question that Opening Day is one of the best annual traditions in all of professional sports, and that time of the year is rapidly approaching for the 2015 baseball season. There’s a lot of intriguing matchups out there to kick off the regular season, but amongst the highest on that list is a battle between two AL East rivals, the New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays, which will open up the Yankee Stadium slate for the upcoming season.

According to Razorgator, when these organizations get together for the first game of the year at Yankee Stadium, the average ticket price is said to be $262, which isn’t all too bad compared to other Yankee Stadium openers over the years. The get-in price for Yankees tickets vs. Toronto is around just $76, which is a relatively modest amount given the usual prices of prestigious games at the Yankees’ home venue.

Both organizations missed the playoffs in 2014, although it was largely for the same reason, injuries. The Blue Jays, for instance, held a first place lead in the division throughout much of the summer months before succumbing to injuries, including a significant one to MVP candidate Edwin Encarnacion and as a result the Blue Jays faded out of the picture before season’s end extending the longest playoff drought in baseball to 21 seasons.

The Yankees meanwhile find themselves in a very unfamiliar position coming off missed postseason appearances in back-to-back seasons for the first time since the mid-90s. However the main reason for this has much to do with the mounting injuries they dealt with that would wreck any club, the Yankees still labored to a respectable 84-78 record, while hanging around in playoff contention for the entire campaign.

That being said, this is a pretty important opening series for both clubs, in what could be an early telling sign for the Yankees and Blue Jays how the beginning of their season will turn out. New York surprisingly didn’t really make any major upgrades in the offseason, but perhaps didn’t need to because of all the injured players they’re getting back, making them a team that should certainly be included in the conversation when analyzing the favorites from the American League. As for Toronto, they’re absolutely a contender as well despite the little offseason activity they participated in, getting their own hurt players back, hoping to make a push similar to last year before it quelled due to injury.

Posted in Razorgator

Phillies Opening Day game vs. Boston Red Sox Surprisingly Affordable

Cole Hamels

The Philadelphia Phillies are entering the 2015 season in a little bit of a rebuilding phase, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have the potential to surprise people and make some noise in the always-competitive NL East division. They’ll be especially hungry after posting back-to-back 89-loss seasons in each of the past two years, their highest losing total since 2000.

Philly opens up their 2015 home slate on April 6 against the Boston Red Sox, with Phillies tickets surprisingly inexpensive, according to Razorgator. Relative to other home openers for their fellow National League teams, Philadelphia’s average ticket price is pretty low at $161, with the get-in for the home opener being just $35, which is amongst the lowest out of any organization.

While the Phillies have seen their veteran roster endure more subtraction than addition, this is still a group that has potential to contend for a .500 record, if not more. For instance, the starting pitching staff they’ll be entering 2015 with looks like it can go head-to-head with just about all other rotations, still led by talented ace Cole Hamels. As long as he remains healthy, there’s no reason for the veteran left-hander not to have one of his usual outstanding campaigns. Health is certainly the key for Cliff Lee, who endured an array of injuries a year ago, but looks like he’ll be entering the upcoming campaign with no limitations. If he can avoid any further injuries, the Phillies have themselves a very good 1-2 punch within their starting pitching.

Beyond them, there’s hope that lies within the rest of the rotation, especially if free agent signee Chad Billingsley returns to old form after missing most of the past two years thanks to Tommy John surgery. David Buchanan is a youngster who exhibited potential in his rookie showing last season, while Aaron Harang is a veteran who proved he can still pitch during his tenure in Atlanta.

Philadelphia’s lineup definitely underwent some considerable renovations, no longer boasting the presence of Jimmy Rollins and Marlon Byrd. However, there are still some significant pieces here capable of leading an offense, such as longtime Phillies second baseman Chase Utley. Slugger Ryan Howard has registered some of the best power seasons in the history of the franchise, and while he’s fallen off in recent years, a renaissance year is always possible. Also having speedy Ben Revere, power-hitting Domonic Brown, and veteran catcher Carlos Ruiz, the Phillies’ offense still has potential to strike on any given day, although overall consistency may be an issue if these guys don’t perform at their normal pace.

Posted in Razorgator